How the Iraq War Destabilized the Entire Middle East

Photo by The U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0

As we approach the fifteenth anniversary of the unwarranted invasion of Iraq, which we are still paying for in so many ways, it is important to remember the misuse of intelligence that provided a false justification for war.  It is particularly important to do so at this time because President Donald Trump has talked about a military option against North Korea or Iran (or Venezuela for that matter).  Since there is no cause to justify such  wars, it is quite likely that politicized intelligence would once again be used to provide a justification for audiences at home and abroad.

In 2002 and 2003, the White House, the Department of Defense, and the Central Intelligence Agency collaborated in an effort to describe the false likelihood of a nuclear weapons program that had to be stopped.  In the words of Bush administration officials, the United States was not going to allow the “smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”  On September 8, 2002, Vice President Cheney and national security adviser Condi Rice used that phrase on CNN and NBC’s “Meet the Press,” respectively, to argue that Saddam Hussein was “using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon.”

In October 2002, the CIA orchestrated a national intelligence estimate to argue falsely that Iraq was acquiring uranium from Niger for use in a nuclear weapon.  Senior officials throughout the intelligence community…

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